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Business consolidation: Better living through technology

by ​Deb Scifres
For many, consolidation isn’t seen as a positive thing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Buiness consolidation. Two words that can strike fear in the heart of any worker. It harkens to job losses, red ink and sometimes, an eventual bankruptcy.

But business consolidation doesn’t have to be a harbinger of doom. If done in the right way, it can help businesses cut costs, improve productivity, and shift employees to new or different positions more in line with business goals. Employees could even find themselves with time for the work they’d actually prefer to be doing — with more efficient tools — rather than endless amount of rote paperwork.

How? It all starts with the way your business uses technology to manage its information. Here are two areas of your business where consolidation may make sense:

Business consolidation doesn’t have to be a harbinger of doom. If done in the right way, it can help businesses cut costs, improve productivity, and shift employees to new or different positions more in line with business goals.


It’s an all-too-common refrain at large enterprises — billing redundancies producing extra work for everyone involved. It’s even worse in industries with high amounts of regulatory needs. From forms in triplicate to proper storage of personal data to receipts for tens of thousands of transactions, it necessitates a lot of physical space, often in the form of billing centers. And as the enterprise grows, so do the space needs. Unfortunately, this is also often an area where workflows get bogged down in handling the sheer amount of data. Processing times skyrocket, costs rise, and employees find themselves staring up at a never-ending deluge of documents.

However, document digitization can play a huge role in helping to resolve these issues. While no business can go fully paperless if dealing with outside agencies, digitization of customer files can reduce the amount of physical space required to store massive amounts of receipts and customer records. This also reduces the number of hours required to manage these documents, allowing you to move employees to areas of the enterprise where they would be more productive, and saving money in the process.

Customer service

It seems counter-intuitive to talk about customer service being a prime area for consolidation. After all, in today’s always-on world, you need to always be accessible to your customers, no matter the time or place. The harder it is for your customer to reach you, or the harder it is for them to get the information they need when they need it, the less likely they are to remain your customer for long. And there’s proof: a recent Harvard Business Review1 story argues that for customers of subscription-based services, those who rated their experience 10 out of 10 were found to remain customers 6 times longer than those who had a poor experience.

A problem bemoaned by many larger enterprises has been the varying quality of customer service across locations. You’ll have your superstars, but it was impossible to have them in every location, whenever a customer might need them. Telepresence kiosks are one way to solve this problem.
Rather than staffing locations all over the globe, these kiosks allow you to consolidate your customer service staff into a centralized service center, and connect to customers face-to-face through the kiosk whenever they are needed. The benefits are many: resources can be shifted to respond to changing needs much more quickly; you can utilize your best customer service workers to reach the most possible people; you’re no longer limited by the normal 9-to-5 day; and you can expand the reach of your customer service to places previously impossible. Before, you likely could not afford to staff each location with workers who spoke a variety of languages, for example. But with these kiosks, your customers can always have access to a native speaker, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After all, it’s much simpler to staff a central location with the workers you need than each potential branch location.

Final thoughts

Looking to improve how your business works?

Find out how document digitization can change the way your business works.
Business consolidation has a negative connotation, as it often is associated with reorganizations and companies in turmoil. But when done right, it can be a way to not only cut costs, but actually improve the quality of service that you are able to provide to your customers and clients.
Deb Scifres
Deb Scifres, Principal Consultant for the Ricoh USA, Inc. Consulting Services Business Process Agility group, specializes in customer experience transformation from strategy to implementation. Scifres works with customers in finance, beauty and fashion, entertainment, media, energy, federal government, insurance and aerospace to help organizations with information optimization. She has a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Science from Wichita State University.
1 Kriss, Peter. "The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified." Harvard Business Review. 1 August 2014. https://hbr.org/2014/08/the-value-of-customer-experience-quantified